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Behavioral games involving a clever prey avoiding a clever predator an individual-based model of dusky dolphins and killer whales



Behavioral games involving a clever prey avoiding a clever predator an individual-based model of dusky dolphins and killer whales



Ecological Modelling 221.22 (Nov 10): 2687-2698



Faced with an intermittent but potent threat, animals exhibit behavior that allows them to balance foraging needs and avoid predators and over time, these behaviors can become hard-wired adaptations with both species trying to maximize their own fitness. In systems where both predator and prey share similar sensory modalities and cognitive abilities, such as with marine mammals, the dynamic nature of predator-prey interactions is poorly understood. The costs and benefits of these anti-predator adaptations need to be evaluated and quantified based on the dynamic engagement of predator and prey. Many theoretic models have addressed the complexity of predator-prey relationships, but few have translated into testable mechanistic models. In this study, we developed a spatially-explicit, geo-referenced, individual-based model of a prototypical adult dusky dolphin off Kaikoura, New Zealand facing a more powerful, yet infrequent predator, the killer whale. We were interested in two primary objectives, (1) to capture the varying behavioral game between a clever prey and clever predator based on our current understanding of the Kaikoura system, (2) to compare evolutionary costs vs. benefits (foraging time and number of predator encounters) for an adult non-maternal dusky dolphin at various levels of killer whale-avoidance behaviors and no avoidance rules. We conducted Monte Carlo simulations to address model performance and parametric uncertainty. Mantel tests revealed an 88% correlation (426 x 426 distance matrix, km2) between observed field sightings of dusky dolphins with model generated sightings for non-maternal adult dusky dolphin groups. Simulation results indicated that dusky dolphins incur a 2.7% loss in feeding time by evolving the anti-predator behavior of moving to and from the feeding grounds. Further, each evolutionary strategy we explored resulted in dolphins incurring an additional loss of foraging time. At low killer whale densities (appearing less than once every 3 days), each evolutionary strategy simulated converged towards the evolutionary cost of foraging, that is, the loss in foraging time approached the 2.7% loss experienced by evolving near shore-offshore movement behavior. However, the highest level of killer whale presence resulted in 38% decreases in foraging time. The biological significance of these losses potentially incurred by a dusky dolphin is dependent on various factors from dolphin group foraging behavior and individual energy needs to dolphin prey availability and behavior.

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Accession: 037396556

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DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2010.07.010


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